-- TURIN, N.Y. -- More than 700 mourners streamed into the upstate New York high school where funeral services were held for Kevin Ward Jr., the dirt-track racer killed when struck by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart's car during a race last weekend.
Ward's casket, decorated with orange and white flowers, was carried into South Lewis Senior High School about an hour before services began. Ward, a 2012 graduate, lived in nearby Port Leyden. Family members followed the casket, some of them dressed in black and orange, the 20-year-old Ward's racing colors.
Inside, more than 50 bouquets crowded the stage in the auditorium above Ward's open casket. The inside of his casket lid was lined with white silk and embroidered with two black-and-white checkered race flags crossing in an "X" shape. Under the words were stitched into the fabric: "Kevin Ward, Jr. Our Champion, We Love You."
Ward's sisters and a few friends spoke during the funeral, which lasted an hour and a half. Boxes of tissues were continually passed throughout the auditorium, as mourners -- many dressed in orange -- sobbed audibly. When the pastor asked whether anyone else would like to speak, one unidentified man came up from the audience, took the microphone and addressed Ward's father, saying, "This is for you." He then sang George Strait's "Love Without End, Amen" a cappella. Many in the audience joined in, clapping along.
During the final song of the service, family members huddled around Ward's casket and hugged one another, then placed a black-and-white checkered flag inside the casket.
Dean Reynolds, vice president of Empire Super Sprints, said ESS's annual race at Evans Mills Speedway in June will be known now as The Kevin Ward Memorial.
Ward was killed Saturday night at a track 140 miles away in Canandaigua, where Stewart was racing a day before the Sprint Cup event at Watkins Glen.
Information from ESPN's Kelly Naqi and The Associated Press was used in this report.